20150216

The Best Part about Visiting Arizona in the Winter

Citrus. It's everywhere and people love to share the abundance. I feel like Hunter S. Thompson carrying a bunch of grapefruits everywhere.

Black Canyon 100k Ultra Race

This weekend I ran my first 100km ultra (62 miles), just north of Phoenix, AZ. It took me 15 hours to complete it. The heat (86F) and elevation gain (7,000+’) were significant factors. I’m happy to report that I just have one big blister and that I did not fall in spite of the trail being rocky from start to finish.

The biggest surprise in this race was how fun it was to connect with the other runners while on the course. I’m used to running alone with my headphones on. It was a totally different experience to meet up with people and hear their stories while running. In a way it felt like I was a kid playing with friends. We were all just out there for 15 hours, having an adventure. With aid stations feeding the runners snacks every 8 miles, this sense of play felt supported.

There were extremes, such as a huge drop rate (nearly 50 out of 140 people did not get to the finish line). While running at night in the dark I heard guns being fired all around and one point a group of five us heard a bullet flying through the grass near by.

I’m proud of myself for not getting lost and for managing my needs like carrying enough water, salt pills and food. Aside from some foot, calf, and quad cramping that slowed me down, this was an ideal first 100k race experience. Especially since the distance and elevation are both 2x more than I have ever attempted.

While I ran the 100k Wendy ran her very first race, an18k with a lot of elevation gain. She started out at noon and in the midday heat. I keep telling her that she ran a perfect race because she ran according to her heart rate, keeping it at below 160 until the final couple of miles and then running in hard. That takes discipline and its what makes people able to run far distances.

 Black Canyon 100k

Black Canyon 100k Black Canyon 100k Black Canyon 100k Ultra Race

20150210

Bye Bye Toenail

My first race will be this Saturday (it will be Mikey's second) and guess what? My toenail is falling off! This is a common type of nail fall off amongst ultra runners. The nail detaches not from it's edge but from it's' start, the space of detachment moves up and up until it kinda peels off. The timing of this event could be better. It does not hurt when I'm running, only when I push on it. Hopefully it'll fall off without my noticing as I'm not into doing the intentional yank out of necessity while on trail. Ahhhh!

20150208

Open For Bee'isness (Almost)

We miss our bees! Two years ago the hive died. We think it was either a weak queen that the hive did not replace for some reason, or that they died from having been moved to a location that did not give them enough heat.

This week the bees have been out and about buzzing all over my yard. All the patterns are appearing that lead to a swarm. Every early spring we are visited by one, and this year we intend to catch it. But first we're putting out the hive next to a tree that's already covered in bees to see if the hive will split off and make a queen for our empty nest. Of course if both of these ideas fail, there's always the internet.

Today we scraped clean our hive and gear and we set it up in a new location that we think they'll dig. We're just waiting on our brood chamber and cap, which we loaned out last spring when some friends had an epic and sudden swarm that wanted to catch.

Looking forward to the end of empty hive syndrome. Bees are the best!


TGT Minimalist Wallet Mimic



I've been craving a minimalist wallet, something tiny tiny tiny and functional. So I ripped of the TGT design which features a small leather pocket and an elastic band for ccrds. Here's my finished product. I love it! It took ten minutes to make and cost me nothing. : )

20150204

YATC5 Fermentation Example - Plate Warmer Configuration



My 5th generation temperature controller will be shipping later this month. This controller is ideal for fermentation and high efficiency chest freezer conversions.

The YATC5 has some great features such as a fully water proof probe that self calibrates, small form factor, Celsius or Fahrenheit mode and TTL data logging ability. You can sign up on my waiting list to be notified when units are available for purchase.


In this example I am warming a bottle of our Hefeweizen, Kimchi and flask of water with the temperature probe on a vintage heat plate. 



20150201

Connecting the Trails Sidewinder to Mescal Canyon Loop

We have two great trails near town that I have been hiking separately for years. This morning I was able to find a route that connects both trails with less than a 1/4 mile of bushwhacking. I started running on the best single track called "Sidewinder" and when I reached the fence line headed for an arroyo. What I found was one of the most beautiful canyons I have seen in New Mexico. There is only one twenty foot drop that comes out of nowhere, but aside from that the area felt quite safe. The total loop from my front door was about 11 miles. This trip can be easily extended in length as the arroyo has a network of smaller arroyos it connects to.

11 mile run today. I found the arroyo that connects sidewinder to mescal canyon. It is Utah beautiful.

11 mile run today. I found the arroyo that connects sidewinder to mescal canyon. It is Utah beautiful.

11 mile run today. I found the arroyo that connects sidewinder to mescal canyon. It is Utah beautiful.

Sidewinder to Mescal Strava Data

20150127

Ted Turner Opens His New Restaurant


TorC is always excited to have a new restaurant open. Ted's ribbon cutting in the Sierra Grande Hotel Restaurant was met with a incredible turnout. Due to some confusion a local paper printed the invite event as a public event. Everything appeared to work out. We all got snacks.


20150126

Project Hefeweizen Bottled

We are pretty excited to have finished making our first batch of beer. The alcohol content came out to 4.3% which is kinda of Utah, but pretty close to the mark.

20150122

Beer Progress

Beer Progress

Racked the beer just to clear it up a little. This Hefeweizen is looking good and ready to be bottled. It was a surprise to me how fast and easy it is to brew beer. We have only done wine and mead in the past.

20150115

Perfectly Imperfect Pillows




I love sitting on the floor and snooching up to a big table. Often I work all day around the living coffee table. Pillows are key to floor comfort and best in a variety of shapes or sizes. Some pillows are ideal for getting your bum off the ground, think yoga, a tilted pelvis, long spine, crossed legs - ideally Buddhist style meditation cushion which is firm and at least 6" high. Long overstuffed pillows are great for lifting the knees and thighs off the ground, or for lumbar breaks. Other cushions act as wedges between bone and hard surfaces like table legs. Of course it is critically important that all the pillows fit perfectly under the coffee table. Viola!

My endless need for pillows fits well with my need for a palette cleanser between projects. Today for example... I ran 6 miles, did some web research for a conference call, had the conference call, and the day was young but much of my mental energy had been spent. These are the ideal conditions for sewing pillows! After sewing it is as though someone has shaken an etch-a-sketch in my mind and I am ready to start something new.

The great thing about making your own pillows is the matching that comes out of it. I'm a hack at sewing and my pillows always show flaws, but they match. And they don't just match one another, they match the curtains too. Here's a view of my sitting pit and all the pillows I've made so far. Today's additions are the buddhist style round pillow (the middle fabric is not so round, whoops!) and the couch pillow - a cover that I made from a lovely piece of loomed fabric that I believe is Native American which I got at a yard sale. It now covers a yummy, big, square down pillow. Oh yeah, you gotta have a few down filled pillows. Unlike the rest these always contort to what you need them to do, ideally they're for head resting and best placed on the couch. So there you have it, I think way too much about pillows. Thank goodness!

20150106

Resolutions for 2015

I have been thinking about, and talking with friends about new year resolutions. I don't always make them but this year it felt right to do so. I made three that are inner wishes, things that I believe that I have direct control over, and one that may seem outside of me, but having contemplated it a bit I realize that I may have more 'control' than I had originally imagined.

Inner Resolutions
1) To learn what needs to change about my behavior (and then change it) so that I won't feel taken for granted

2) To focus on the positive attributes of others (rather than feeling frustration over their weaknesses). To remember that another person is just me in different circumstances.

3) To run 50 miles

The fourth, which may seem out of my control is,
4) To see white collar crime prosecuted

Oddly, shortly after making this resolution, today it was announced that former VA gov is being sentenced to two years in jail for illegal behavior. So why is this on my resolution list if I don't have direct control over it? The answer is so that I will look for every opportunity that comes my way to do what I can do given my limitations. It starts with this post. I can be a squeaky wheel by blogging, and posting news clips to Twitter and Facebook. Also, I chose only one "world issue," because I feel that it gives me the greatest chance of success. If I had a long laundry list of things I wished to see changed I might get nothing done about any of them. But by choosing one, I think I can have a little bit of an impact. We'll see. What I have already noticed is that by choosing something outside of my inner world, I have already realized that I have more power than I had originally thought.

What one outside (of yourself) issue would you choose to stand for in 2015? How would it look to stand for it?

- Wendy


20150104

New Mexico Sweet - Honey Roasted Radish

I've been thumbing through a new cookbook by Storey Pubishing called Dishing Up New Mexico. They other day I tried a recipe for a grape salad. Mikey and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Tonight I followed a recipe for Honey Roasted Radish. I never baked radish before. There is little that can go wrong with this recipe which features honey, red wine vinegar, and some simple spices. It requires a little steaming and a little baking. The radish, once cooked, had no hint of the springy stingy taste that raw radishes have. It had been nicely rounded out by the sugar. All in all it was an excellent match with mahi mahi, pan steamed radish tops with garlic, and salad.

Lets Just Call These Trash Bin Macaroons


The other day I posted a new use for almond pulp, the waste product from making almond milk that I used to make dehydrated raw macaroons. Today I modified the recipe in an effort to take the kitchen trash concept further. Instead of using raw coconut, I used coconut mash, also a left over but  from making coconut milk. Ordinarily I'd throw this away just like the almond pulp. Two these two waste materials I simply added about 1/2 cup of maple syrup. They take about four hours to dry out in a standard dehydrator on 115 degrees.

There is a noticeable compromise to texture and taste in this version of the recipe. The "used" coconut pulp has reduced sweetness and made the texture is a bit fiber heavy, but it's still quite tasty and well you can't debate that it is an excellent salvage of materials.

Hydration Food - Chia Pudding

In the world of ultra running many athletes eat GUs, tiny packets of jelly like goo carefully designed to provide all sorts of things that runners need like nutrition, fat, sugar, caffeine, and electrolytes. I tried a couple of them. I'm not a fan. They remind me of bags of chips from the grocery store. Even if they're not made from crappy ingredients, they are often processed enough that they feel and taste weird.  Some are very high in sugar.

Mikey and I have the time to experiment so I've been searching for running foods that meet our needs which are mostly: calories, fat, sugar, and salt. Today I messed around with chia seeds and my homemade almond milk and came up with this delicious pudding. I combined chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla seeds that I had left over from making a batch of vanilla extract, salt and a tiny bit of maple syrup. Since we're eating it at home I topped it off with blueberries and a sprinkle of flax. If I were taking this out on a run I'd blend the fruit with the almond milk and I might leave out the flax. I think that a pinch of cardamom would be great in this too. Then I'd seal it with our vacuum sealer so that I can rip it open about an hour into my run and suck out the contents. I'm going to continue to experiment with chia because it helps one stay hydrated in the desert. The best part is, this is supper yummy. It reminds me of a black rice pudding desert that I go crazy over.

20150102

Self Improvement Results for 2014

On New Years Eve 2013 I posted a self improvement plan for 2014. Below is a summary of my 2013 vs 2014 actual self improvement data.

Prediction - I will double my yearly running mileage. Close...

2013 total miles - I ran 655 miles
2014 total miles - I ran 1,080 miles

2014distance

I did manage to increase the elevation I run in a significant way.

2013 elevation gain - 7,640' 
2014 elevation gain - 18,897'

2014elevation

Prediction - I will double the amount of books I read.

2013 - I read 57 books
2014 - I read 62 books

2014books

Prediction: I will produce two kits.

2014 - Only the DP2 Battery charger came out this year.

Da Pimp 2 [DP2] Battery Charger Now Shipping

I also swam 97 miles.

2015 predictions:
  • running total mileage: 1,500 miles (4 miles a day)
  • running total ascent: 50,000' (33' per mile)
  • swimming total miles: 200 (.5 miles a day)
  • total books: 104 (2 a week)
  • new kits: 3




20141228

Dishing Up New Mexico

New Mexican's have a palette all their own. Hot and sweet, seasonal, and local, NM dishes are almost always laced with green chili, or topped with chipotle. When the heat creeps something sweet is there to cool things down, honey or perhaps something made of prickly pear. We have peppers in unmatched variety, though we're most known the green chili that comes out of Hatch. The real question is how to use the colorful and oddly shaped and sized variety of nightshades.

Tonight I tried the first of several recipes that I have earmarked in Storey Publishing's book titled Dishing Up New Mexico by Dave Dewitt.

The recipe I made is a fresh grape salsa. It was an excellent side dish to a horseradish heavy lentil and black bean burger that I regularly make. The salsa toned down the spice of the burgers. I always go wild with horseradish and find myself with watery eyes and at times banging on the table in anxiety as I wait for the burn the pass. When it does I go right back for another torturous bite. The salsa  took the place of the table banging. I was surprised at how mildly sweet the grape salsa was.  In spite the fact that grapes are the main ingredient, the dish bordered on savory. The salt, pepper, jalapino, and red onion balanced it. It was delicious and simple.

One of the best features of this book is the list of resources provided for finding some of the ingredients. As a local I can actually go to the farmers markets and farms mentioned in the book. Perhaps the most important ingredient that you'll find in New Mexican cooking is green chili (preferably from Hatch, NM) which lucky for you can be mail ordered. Even when I lived in New York City restaurants boasted that they served Hatch green chili.

I have plans to cook a few more dishes from Dishing Up New Mexico, including the cucumber and chili pepper popsicles, honey roasted radishes, blistering baked squash with Blueberries, herb and chili roasted lamb, and chickpea and chorizo stew. More as it comes....

Best Vegan Almond Macaroons (Made From Waste)

If you make home made almond milk than you know about the waste product at the end that sure does not seem like it should be garbage! Yes, the almond slurry that's left over after straining the milk. I've been wondering what to do with it for years. Mikey has tried making hummus out of it and I've made dehydrated oat crackers. Both were OK, but not super great.

Yesterday I hit the jackpot with macaroons. They're so delicious that we were eating them while they were still in the dehydrator. Here's the recipe.

Almond slurry left over from making almond milk (usually about 1 cup to 1 cup and a half)
3/4 cup of coconut
1/2 cup maple syrup

Mix, roll into cookie shapes, dehydrate in dehydrator at 115 for about 6 hours. Viola!

20141227

Trust

I sat down tonight to express my delight about having a chapter in the new book by Make titled Maker Pro: Essays on Making a Living as a Maker. I meant to write a review of the book. But I got to thinking about being employed and what what is wrapped up it. I got carried away. So here’s a ditty on employment that I guess I just had to write.

It is a great time for people to break free from the things that bind them, especially employment which has never been about individual creative self-expression. Too often our work has us conforming to a wish or goal that is not our own. When this happens too much our labor produces a world that does not support our collective lives. This is happening today. Hidden in the employment dynamic, I think, is a lack of trust that is causing all sorts of havoc and heartbreak. Our desperate drive towards employing everyone, and likewise the negative connotations around being unemployed, suggest to me that we think we are better off working for someone else than we are being free, in other words we don't trust ourselves.

Since the 2008 crash politicians have been bragging about how many jobs they are going to create. It drives me totally crazy. They even tout actual numbers. Create jobs,” has become an American slogan. Is it really better if everyone has one? What do we believe a job is anyway? People should be engaged with the world, connected through interest yes. But this is different than having a job. I think that we’ve been trained to fear our freedom. We fear the mischief that we may make. Without a job we may become criminals, make harm to others and ourselves. We’ll go crazy. Sounds silly when you say it doesn't it? Especially when we know that making things, problem solving, and creating is human nature. It is our nature to contribute too, to share. We all want to be part of the whole, to fit in. This has been well documented by science. Humans are conformists.

What we should fear is people having nothing to eat. Employing people under our current system does not prevent, but rather assures that some will starve. Globalization pillages the bounty of some for the comfort of others while destroying life preserving systems and resources in the process. Logically when people are denied what is most basic to happiness - things like food, shelter, quality of life, natural resources, and freedom of self-expression - things get gnarly. If we want to be sure that everyone has got enough to eat we might find it easier to assure if we get rid of employment all together. Left to our own devices we are farmers, weavers, electronic geeks, woodworkers, mothers, drivers, writers, kite makers, and the like. We are natural sharers and caretakers too. We collectivize. None of this requires working for a corporation or even another person. The only thing I see standing between who we are and who are being and have become is trust.

I think that our fear of freedom is really a fear of change. Most of us seem to loathe it but I think that we’re just not used to it. If your alive today you were likely born into a near fully commodified system - linear, measured, and fixed – we have been raised on predictability and repetition even if it is not our natural rhythm. Nature (of which we are apart) is our rhythm and it is wild, mutable, and ever changing. It is variety. Change is more natural to us than we know, we’re just out of joint from living in civilization. Just look at the colors of civilization to see how fixed a system it is. It's colors are the pantone color wheel a limited set of colors that cover cars to magazine ads to furniture - everything in civilization. In contrast nature hardly duplicates a color and it make new ones all of the time. Like the limited number of colors of the pantone color system, not every person or type of person will fit into civilization's limited categories. Civilization will always be a smaller system than what we are, we're the natural system, we are unlimited. Logically, this will always leave some out, some will go unemployed, some will starve, some will be voiceless. The system is not as diverse as we are. For every person not included, something important goes undone as I believe that nature makes nothing unessential. It also makes no duplicates. I consider this often as I watch more and more species go extinct. What would have been? What contribution is missed because a person has been left out? What was nature going to say about itself next? We'll never know. 

If you look closely you can see how poorly we have adapted to civilization’s monotony. The signs of it are everywhere - attention deficit, depression, hoarding, addiction, and anxiety to name a few. There is a disease name for the reaction of children born and raised in cities when are put in the forests - they have panic attacks. This disease is called failure to connect. The kids lack the neural networks to comprehend the diversity of nature. The system is expressing itself in human development. People are evolving towards artificiality. But I think it is our nature to be comfortable with change. We’ve just become systematized.

So what if we got rid of the job? What we do for the job we may do for ourselves, if we wish. Or better still, we may do whatever we wish. We may wish a new start, another ending, a fresh tomorrow. You can bet the farm that given freedom to create a new world people will make one that is more sustainable than the one we’re now trying to fix. It is “natural” for creatures to support their own lives. Even my dog knows not to shit where she eats.

I always wonder why people still show respect for the business suit or the necktie (noose). Why are those who are financially "successful" oogled over like pop stars? Wealth has no connection whatsoever to moral behavior. In capitalism wealth is the reward for greed. Ruthlessness produces monetary gain and money exploits us all by revealing our shadow. It shows or fear and belief that this world is not abundant. We don’t trust it. In other words we don’t trust ourselves as we are not other than this world. Our shadow is killing us. We cannot evolve along with it.  


The chapter I wrote for the new book by Make is titled, The Art of Unemployment. In it I talk about the ways in which Mikey and I have found to live a decommodified life during this time in which the whole world is for sale. I do promise to write a review of the rest of the book as I had meant to when I sat down. Tomorrow...   - Wendy 

20141226

Dying Hurts Living Hurts - Why I Run

This month a variety of situations prompted me to reflect on why I run. There were two injuries - one to my foot after falling down a mountain, and this week my hip went wonky leaving me laid up and limping. When my physical therapist broke up with me the other day, afraid of the liability of my running 31 miles on a weird hip, I got to thinking about the ways in which the world had reacted to my choice to run far and the ways I've responded.

Like most people my body has quirks - I have two herniated discs in my neck and a deformed hip that I had surgery on as a kid that was followed by 2 years in a body cast, and two double hernia surgeries. Since I started running (13 months and 650 miles ago) just about every part of my body has expressed itself to me through pain - my calves hurt, arches, IT band, lower back, hip, pelvis, neck, you name it. It would be easy to interpret what the pain is saying this way, "get off your hip, lay down, rest, don't do anything strenuous and stop running!" It would be easy to find doctors to say these same things. But I am aware that there are other ways to interpret pain, after all pain is a language, our language with our bodies. When my arches, sacrum, IT band and hip hurt I interpret the pain this way, "Hey! We never did this before!!" It is true, I never ran 15 miles before. Did I really expect that after years of lazying about my body would run 15 miles without a glitch?

If if were to choose the story of, "I have a bad hip so I'd better get off it," than in no time my hip will atrophy and eventually it will demand a cane it will be real easy to find a doctor ready to give me one. Many have already offered them to me along with a hip replacement. Recently I got a new MRI and Xray that showed that running had built enough muscle around my hip that it is now being held up by that muscle, thus no bones rub. This came in spite of warnings not to run on it. Perhaps we get the answer we seek? And this is my point. Just look at the number of people zipping around supermarkets in electric chairs. How many do you think need them? What's will atrophy as a result of that choice?


I had to do some real soul searching this week when my hip hurt too much to walk on. I had to choose again. As it begins to feel better today and I see that I'll get through this episode I am happy that I interpreted the pain I felt as my hip waking up, learning, struggling, and then getting stronger. This process hurts. But dying hurts too and I imagine that dying hurts extra when we die from deterioration and decay, from a state of atrophy rather than vitality.

Since I began to run my resting heart rate dropped significantly. People walking next to me alway seem to be gasping while I breathe with ease through my nose. I rarely tire. Symptoms of all variety: fibromyalgia, fatigue and lethargy, hormonal wonkiness and papering skin went away along with excess body weight and signs of premature aging. Mikey and I enjoy the time we spend using our arsenal of massage tools and electric zappers to figure out how to help one another rebound from continuous running "injuries (can't we think of another word for this?)," I think that our culture has skewed in the direction of decay. The pill, surgeon and wheel chair are too easy to reach for. We are too rest ready. I wonder about the impact of living in a capitalist system in which sick people are a billing cycle to the industry of medicine, while healthy people are useless to it. Looked at this way, healthy people don't do their part to grow the economy. This to me is a wake up call to ignite common sense. Our bodies are meant to be used. Pain is not "bad," it is perfect, it is as right as rain.

The Sufis say that suffering is the denial of pain. They also say, "die before you die," referring to the death of the ego that allows for true sight. I'm going to add a slogan of my own, "die well."

Images: an arsenal of massagers and props for hurting muscles, an x-ray of wendy's wonky hip from 2001